When Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was released for the (late) Wii U in 2014, I was ecstatic. Not only was I getting a proper puzzler with a Mario twist, but an expanded version of one of the best parts of Super Mario 3D World. Back in 2014, it helped justify the (sort of — but total) waste of money that Nintendo’s forlorn console was.
Flash forward to the summer of 2018. The Nintendo Switch is still flying high in its second year (don’t let the analysts fool you) and still re-releasing some of the Wii U’s best games. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is no exception. The 3D puzzler ages well — really well — on Nintendo’s latest console, proving that Nintendo knows how to crank out quality games that can stand the test of time.
The premise of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker involves saving Toadette (and later Toad as Toadette) from a giant, super-pissed bird hellbent on ruining a perfectly good day of exploring and treasure tracking. What makes this game so excellent is the absolute charm that Toad and Toadette provide. Nintendo utilizes two of the most underrated characters (sorry, Waluigi) in a clever way, providing them their own story that can work nicely within the meta-Mario universe.
The graphics are on par with Super Mario Odyssey, which left me stopping to zoom in, stare and get lost in the beauty hidden within the levels. The levels themselves provide a stellar challenge that ramps up in difficulty pretty evenly as you progress, which allows the new puzzle mechanics time to breathe before throwing a new game play mechanic in.
With each level, there are three optional and one required objective: Finding all three diamonds, completing the secret objective (which can be getting a certain amount of coins, finding a hidden item, destroying all the enemies, etc.), finding the 8-bit Toad and reaching the level’s star. What’s great about this setup is that it allows for casual gamers to pick up and play some light puzzles, while engaging with a completionist like a dream.
The only complaint I have about this game is how Nintendo reconciles the touch game play mechanic in docked mode. In handheld, the game works just like it did with the Wii U’s game pad, but when docked, the game relies on the right Joy-Con’s Wiimote-like sensor to hover over while you click to “touch” the movable set piece. It’s clunky, frustrating at times when you are trying to time something, and seems like an oversight.
In my opinion, the game really ramps up and shows its true colors when you begin Book 2 and play as Toadette. The additional game modes and mechanics (the mummy!), ramp up the difficulty in a fantastic way. The Super Mario Odyssey levels are a nice addition, and it shows the potential for what Nintendo could do with a Treasure Tracker sequel.
Have you picked up Toad’s latest adventure?